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I've bought a number of items recently from Sports Direct.com, and I must say that the quality of some of their products is poor, and their customer service is even worse.
I purchased a number of items of clothes on line. To be fair, delivery was pretty fast - they arrived just a few days later. However, a couple of my items were of very poor quality. Ok, they were fairly cheap, but when I examined them in detail, it was clear that I couldn't wear these in public.
A tshirt looked as if it was simply cut out of the cloth, and not finished off. There were no seams on the sleeves, the neck, or around the waist. In fact, it was simply a piece of cloth, in the vague shape of a t-shirt.
I also ordered a pair of shorts, but found that on the inside of each leg, part of the material had been torn away. Now, to return damaged products is a chore, you have to pay the Post & Packing yourself (its in the terms & conditions I'm afraid).
Despite this setback, I'd also seen a very nice ladies hooded top that I wanted to buy as a birthday present.
I ordered it on line, it arrived quickly - but they'd shipped the wrong size (childrens large rather than adult large). So I called their customer services number. That's resulted in around 45 minutes hanging to to speak to someone. When I finally got through, the lady was very apologetic, and assured me that they did have the right size in stock, so I ordered a replacement.
And guess what - it arrived, and again they'd shipped a children's size. So, back to the customer services, where again it was more than 30 minutes waiting on hold. The lady said she'd investigate further and let me know why the second shipment was also wrong.
Now, I did state clearly that this was urgent - the birthday was just 2 days away.
However, I received no response. So I had to write numerous emails, and finally received an answer that the products in the warehouse were incorrectly labelled, and they in fact did NOT have the product in adult size.
So they failed completely to meet by requirements as a customer; plus they provided inaccurate information, and failed to act with urgency to resolve by problem. I was so frustrated, I asked for the details of the Customer Service Management. As yet, they have not responded to my complaint.
So, lessons learned for me. The products are fairly cheap, and I've received some that are perfectly fine. However, the ratio between good and damaged/incorrect products that I've received is not good, so I will not be using this company again in the future.
I've seen a number of reviews of Bratislava, with some expressing disappointment with their trip to the capital of Slovakia, so as I've spent a considerable amount of time in this city I thought I'd share my experiences to try and help set the right expectations for people wanting to visit in the future. I would recommend Bratislava to either younger visitors whom will enjoy the various bars and clubs, and to those people wanting to enjoy a different culture, a variety of restaurants and a small amount of sightseeing. I would not recommend as a location for families with younger children, or for visits longer than a few days unless you plan to use Bratislava as a base to visit other places.
So, first some geographical and historical background. Bratislava is located in the western corner of Slovakia, very close to the Austrian border, and just an hour away from Vienna. The country has a population of somewhere close to 6 million, with around half a million living in the capital city. Many of these are younger people whom have settled there after finishing at one of the many well regarded universities in Bratislava, or having relocated from their home town in search of job opportunities.
The spoken language is Slovak, which is widely recognised as one of the most complex languages in the world, and whilst many of the younger population speak fluent English and/or German, its wise to prepare with some basics of the language in case of emergency. Plus, a please and thank you in the local language is always well appreciated.
'Prosim' is please; and 'dakujem pekny' is thank you very much!!
Historically, Slovakia has had a turbulent past, and was part of Czechoslovakia until 1989, when the country divided into two independent countries; The Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic. This split was named as the 'Velvet Revolution' due to the amicable nature of the separation of the two countries, and in recent years Slovakia has seen quite a significant economic growth, and transitioned to the Euro in recent years so tourists will actually find the city a little more expensive than in the past.
The communist and socialist background of the country is reflected in some of the architectural design of the older flats and residences in the city, and many buildings are quite grey and drab on the outside but often very nicely renovated within. The vast residential area of Petrzalka, with its sea of high rise flats, is a throwback to the years of communism, however newer properties are built with more creativity and colour, and gradually many of the older properties are being reconstructed and brightened up.
Getting to Bratislava by air is simple. Low budget airlines fly to both Bratislava airport and Vienna Airport, and there are also scheduled airlines flying into Vienna.
Travelling between Vienna airport and Bratislava is also quite easy. There's a regular bus service, Slovak Lines, which can be caught right outside the arrivals area, and takes around an hour to reach the bus station in Bratislava. Taxis from Vienna to Bratislava will be expensive, and the minimum you're likely to pay is 50 Euros.
From Bratislava airport into the city centre is just a short ride on one of the many regular buses which can be caught from just outside the airport. The bus drivers are unlikely to speak English, and are also very unlikely to offer any assistance (the service industry is not as strong as it could be in Slovakia), so my best advice is to ask for help from a local person at the bus stop.
The bus fare is cheap - around 1 euro per person; and although it's easier to take a taxi from the waiting queue outside the arrivals terminal, its extremely common for the taxi drivers to try and rip off tourists. If you do take a taxi, always agree the price before you get in, and the most you should pay if going to the city centre is 10 Euros.
There's a large number of hotels to choose from in Bratislava. The 4 and 5 star hotels in the centre are very pleasant, but not cheap. And there's plenty of budget hotels located in the suburbs of the city.
The city itself has a pedestrianised centre, and the main square (Hlavne Namestie) contains the most decorative and well maintained buildings with many bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Walking around the historical centre is a lovely experience, with the main highlights being the imposing Presidential Palace, the impressive National theatre, the vast St Martin's cathedral and the Baroque style St Michaels Gate. The streets are mostly cobbled, and many are small and narrow. Those set back from the hustle and bustle of the main square are often quite deserted, making it very peaceful and relaxing to slowly wander around browsing the shops or looking at the architecture of the buildings. One word of caution here. The centre is not huge, so a stroll around the main areas would probably take just an hour or two.
There are many bars and restaurants within these streets, but shop around when eating as some of the restaurants are incredibly expensive. And a popular bar for the younger Brits is the Dubliner, which does have Sky TV so Premier Football is often shown on the big screen.
Slightly outside the historical centre are other attractions that should be visited. Overlooking the city is the imposing Bratislava castle, and it's certainly worth a walk up the hill to experience the views from the castle grounds. Here you can see the very unique UFO bridge and restaurant, and on a clear day the views stretch out across the River Danube to the outer residential areas of Bratislava, and even as far as Austria. For those with even greater energy, you can also climb higher to the Slavin Monument for more panoramic views of the city and the surrounding hills.
The 'Blue Church' is also worth a visit, which is not far from the main centre, close to Tesco. The correct name is Kostol Svatej Alzbety (St Elizabeth's Church), and is small decorative pale blue church, which looks wonderful on a bright sunny day. Slightly further away, and accessible by bus, are the ancient Devin castle ruins, which are positioned on the Danube and for a small entrance fee you can climb the hill and walk around the castle remains, experiencing the wonderful views across the river into Austria.
For those wanting to experience some retail therapy, there's 5 shopping centres in Bratislava. Note, clothes are perfume are expensive in Slovakia, and always, always be careful of pickpockets (in the streets, shopping centres and restaurants/bars), as tourists are often prime targets.
All of the shopping centres can be accessed by bus or tram, the newest being the recently opened Eurovia complex, which contains a variety of well known Brand outlets, plus restaurants and bars located on the banks of the Danube. This is a very modern and artistic building, located on a picturesque stretch of the river, and in the summer the promenade and bars prove to be incredibly popular.
Eurovia is actually within easy walking distance from the centre, as is the Au Park Shopping Centre (across the UFO Bridge).
Beyond that, and accessible via public transport, are the Polus, Palace and Avion Centres.
Many of these centre contain cinema complexes, where the films are mostly shown in English with Slovak or Czech subtitles, so this is an option for anyone with time on their hands, or staying for an extended period in Bratislava.
Also, Bratislava is perfectly located to access other major capital cities. Vienna is just one hour by train, or slightly longer via a boat journey down the river. Be careful with the latter, it can be expensive so shop around. Also reasonably close in Budapest in Hungary, only 2 hours from Bratislava by train.
To summarise, this is a great location for a short visit in the spring or summer months when the weather is warm and the centre is busy and bustling with energy; or also in the winter when the snow has fallen, and the Christmas market has been set up in the main square, selling various gifts, food and hot wine..!!!
Be careful though of the temperature in the winter months, it can be perishingly cold...!!
Located on the banks of the river Vltava, approximately 80 miles south of Prague, is an exquisite little medieval town by the name of Cesky Krumlov, which has retained such beauty within its walls, that I've recommended it to all my friends and family. I've visited the town probably four or five times, and will certainly find time to go again in the future.
The town is not huge, and a trip for 2 or 3 days is ample to experience it's wonderful sights.
Getting there is simple.....From Austria, its across the border north of Linz into the Czech Republic. Easy access by car, as the roads are well signposted. Its equally as simple coming from the north, ie Prague, and its worth making a quick stop at Cesky Budejovice (the original home of Budweisser). If you're in Prague and don't have a car, you can easily get to Cesky Krumlov by bus or train.
So, a little more about the town itself. It dates back to the 14th Century, and is a Unesco World Heritage site, sitting within an 'S' shaped bend of the Vltava, and throughout the warm summer months the river sees plenty of traffic as tourists float down the river in canoes and boats. Just opposite the castle there's two small weirs that the canoeists have to negotiate, and its great fun to sit outside one of the many bars or restaurants on the riverbank sampling the produce from the local Eggenberg brewery, watching the canoes and rafts navigating through the weirs. Those that are successful get a loud cheer from the watching audience; and those that meet a watery demise also receive a loud cheer!!! The river is not deep, so there's no real danger.
The town has a small main square, which houses the Information Centre, plus various restaurants and bars. From the main square, there's a number of small quaint streets to explore, which all have beautifully decorated and superbly maintained houses and shops. Wandering around the town is a wonderfully pleasurable experience. Its generally pedestrianised, so there's limited intrusion from cars.
Overlooking the town, is the impressive Cesky Krumlov Castle, which has free entrance to its grounds and gardens. One of the many bridges from the town lead up to the castle, where you can also view the Krumlov bears that live at the base of the castle. Guided tours of the inside of the castle are also available.
The gardens are particularly pretty in the summer, containing an open air theatre and a small lake containing large numbers of ducks, and if you look closely into the dark waters you'll see its well stocked with carp.
As you approach the castle, you cannot fail to be impressed by the Castle Tower, which has a pinkish tinge in colour, and looks just fabulous at night as its incredible architecture is emphasized with artificial lighting. Climbing to the top of the tower (for which there is a small charge) provides you with a perfect 360 degree panoramic view of the town and its many terracotta coloured roofs. For any film fans, the Castle Tower and courtyard appears in the film 'The Illusionist'.
Just a couple of things to point out. Cars are only allowed into the town to drop off baggage at your hotel/pension. All cars are parked outside the town, and the one-way system around the town can be a little confusing. But once you find the right car park, then its just a short walk back into the centre of town. The streets can also be a little confusing, as some are not very wide, and wind around the town. But getting a little lost is part of the charm of the place.
There's many places to stay in the town. Two that I recommend are the Castle View Apartments, which are very central and have a superb view of the castle and tower.
And about 10 minutes by car outside the town, is a romantic hotel called Zahradka 8. Its essentially a converted farmhouse with courtyard, set in a tiny village outside Cesky Krumlov, which has just a few beautifully decorated rooms, with four poster beds, huge bathrooms, and a breakfast room where you can sit quieltly and have breakfast and your evening meal.
Just a little further away, and esily accessible via car, is one of the regions oldest monasteries, Zlata Koruna, and the beautiful white Hluboka Castle, which was rebuilt with a resemblance to Windsor Castle and is a popular location for local weddings. If you have time, both are worth a visit.
In summary, this is a beautiful place to visit for a few days relaxation and aimless wanderings around the castle and busy, pretty streets of the town.
I bought my son the WII Party game for Christmas, as he'd seen the ads on TV and this was top of his Xmas List. And since he opened his presents, just about everyone has been playing it regularly. Its really great fun for all ages. The games are reasonably simple, and once you've mastered the WII controller, then people of all abilities can play.
One small comment, the games are best when you have multiple players (for maximum family fun its also best to have 4 controllers). And its more beneficial to have players of the same ability competing, otherwise the lessor players tend to get somewhat thrashed!!! (as I've found out over the last few weeks). But once you get the hang of it, you'll soon become competitive.
So what exactly is WII party? Well, it has 80 plus games, with various different types. There's Party Games, which involve players competing against each other to win points. These include Board Games, Bingo, and a Wheel of Fortune style game. Each of these play modes are interspersed with various minigames where the players compete to determine order of play. Some of these Party Games can be quite lengthy, and can take up to an hour to complete. So make sure you leave yourself enough time!!
There's also the ability to play individual games. These can be 1,2,3 or 4 players. Again, there's great variety here, and everyone will find their own personal favourites. You can play sports...ski jumping, taking penalties, golf chipping, rope swinging. Or you can enjoy balancing games, question and answer games, hide and seek, word games... There are just too many to mention.
In summary, good value and good fun for all ages!!
This is another Tesco own Brand product that I believe is both high quality and excellent value for money.
From my perspective, the requirements of a bleach product are very simple. Is it strong enough and capable to keep my toilets, sinks and plugs and pipes clean? And the answer for the Tesco Brand Bleach is a resounding YES.
I first started using these when I noticed them on offer at 2 for £1, and picked up 2 bottles to give them a try. And I was not disappointed as the bleach is sufficiently thick and strong to deliver a clean finish, and a bottle does last me for a 3 or 4 weeks.
They come in 3 'flavours' - Lemon, Pine and Fresh, each in a 750ML bottle. I've bought all 3 types in the past, and all have a pleasant fragrance. Note - the price has increased slightly recently, they're 2 bottles for £1.10 in my local Tesco supermarket.
Overall I'd rate this product as excellent for both quality and price.
This is yet another of the Tesco value products that I think is really superb, and from a quality perspective comparable with the other leading Brands that are putting tinned rice pudding on the shelves.
The packaging of course is failry simple and unattractive, but that of course helps keep down the price of these Value products. This comes in a 425g tin, which is the same size as other producers, but the price is a mere 17p only. What a bargain!
And, it tastes great. I haven't seen any different in quality between this value product and the others on the market. The rice pudding is well textured, creamy and above all, delicious. It can be cooked on the stove, or heated in the microwave. One tip, and this is just personal preference, is to just add in an extra few drops of fresh milk whilst heating, just to ensure that it keeps moist and doesn't dry out and become stodgy.
Overall, I recommend this. Great quality at an incredibly cheap price.
I saw that the Tesco Turkish Delights had received a few reviews, so couldn't resist adding my comments.
Turkish Delight is a particular favourite of mine, and I frequently bought a well known Brand of Turkish Delight chocolate bar, however the price of that specific brand has increased quite dramatically over the last months; its gone up by around 40 pence to somewhere near the £2 mark.
So my attention was recently drawn to the Tesco Turkish delight thins, especially as they're priced at a very competitive £1.
These are easy to find on the shelves, as they're in a very attractive pink rectangular box, which contains 20 Turkish Delight thins weighing in at 200g.
Important Information for those with Nut Allergies;
The packing does state that the recipe does not contain nuts (and of course one would not expect nuts to be part of the Turkish Delight ingredients), however, there is a statement that the Factory equipment used to make the product could have previously been used to make products including nuts.
So for those with nut allergies - take care.
But apart from that, they're just great quality and an excellent price. Having now tasted these, I'm probably unlikely to go back to buying other Brands again, as the quality of the Tesco thins is definitely comparable. The chocolate tastes equally as good, and perhaps there's slightly less Turkish delight content in the Tesco version, but if you can buy 2 boxes of thins for the same price as one bar of chocolate, then to me its really no contest.
The Tesco Thins win every time!!!
I bought the Hoover 7 kilo washing machine earlier this year, principally because I had a 70cm gap in my utility room, and this model fitted nicely (at 60 cm wide), plus it was on offer at Comet at a reduced price.
I did browse through the functionality whilst in the showroom, and decided that it had sufficient wash options to meet my needs, and it was made by a brand I knew and trusted.
So, how is it in reality? Well in my view, its very good. Please bear in mind this is a man's view though, and I have quite simple washing needs!!
I very much like the look of the machine. It has simple and robust controls, with 12 different wash options and additional functionality such as a delayed start, a cold wash, and a sensitive care option for delicate fabrics. Additionally the Spin Speed can be varied, which is useful as on the max spin cycle, the clothes tend to come out quite creased.
From a performance perspective, the machine is very good. I've used many of the various programs for cottons, mixed fabrics, woollens and delicates, and every time the clothes come out perfectly clean.
Also, it seems reasonably quiet. I think most washing machines can be a bit noisy, but with this in the utility room and the door closed, I can't hear it at all.
Overall, I'm very happy with this washing machine, its simple and easy to use.
With a predefined and limited space in my new house for a dishwasher, I specifically needed a model that would fit in the corner of the kitchen, under the worktop. My local Comet store had the Hoover HED6612 on special offer, and as it had the perfect dimensions, I plumped for this model.
Actual size is 85cms High, 60cm Depth, and 60 cms Width.
As for functionality, I'm not using it frequently; perhaps twice a week only. And up to now, I'm completely satisfied. Its quiet, and using the economy programme, the dishes come out clean and dry, sufficient to be to put straight away into the cupboard.
It actually has 6 wash cycles, ranging from Intensive to a Rapid wash option. To be honest, I've not figured out the difference between heavy, normal, and lightly soiled plates, so have only used the economy and 1 hour wash cycles. Both work perfectly well.
From a user perspective, its very straightforward and simple to use. It comes with instructions and advice on how best to load the plates and cutlery. I've seen some reviews saying that large plates do not fit well. I've not had that problem, and have easily fitted dinner plates and various pots and pans in the lower tray. There is actually an option to adjust the height of the upper tray if a larger gap between the trays is needed.
Overall, as a fairly infrequent user of the dishwasher (max twice per week), and washing what I believe to be standard soiled plates and cutlery, I find this dishwasher ivery simple to use, and it delivers good results.
I bought a new house this year, which had very limited space in the kitchen for a fridge freezer, so I visited my local Comet store with a plan to find a known brand with a width that fitted my kitchen.
I came across the Hotpoint FFA52P, which had the perfect diimensions. Width of 53cm (21 inches), height 174cm (68.5 inches) and depth of 60 cm (23.5 inches), and it fits snugly into the space I had in my kitchen.
From a price perspective, it was also good value, at around £300.
Since I bought it, I've been perfectly happy with the appliance, but I do think there are some key items to take into account if considering buying this model.
Firstly, size. This is a great fridge freezer for a small family. The fridge space is quite ample at 150 litres capacity, and is divided into 3 storage shelves, plus 2 trays for fruit & veg. In the door space, there's 2 smaller shelves (one with a lidded cover), which are ideal for small items such as eggs, butter etc. Then there's a bottle shelf, which can saccomodate a 2L size bottle, plus space for a medium size milk and a couple of fruit juices.
So plenty of space in the fridge area, but the freezer is smaller (79 litres), with 4 specific storage areas. At the top is the fast freeze area, with below 3 pull out drawers for standard freezer products. And this is where I think consumers need to take care, and match this specific model to their individual needs. The freezer storage space is not huge, and possibly a larger family would struggle to fit in all their frozen products. Specifically the bottom tray, which is not as deep as the other 3, is a little bit limiting. One loaf of bread in here, and its pretty much full.
So overall, a small compact, tidy fridge freezer, available at a competitive price. But probably more suited to smaller families.
Whilst stocking up for the Christmas feast, I was searching for a variety of peanuts to buy. Making the mistake of visiting the store late in the evening, many of the shelves were a little sparse, and the selction of standard roasted peanuts was limited to just the Tesco own Brand. Now, I do like a good quality peanut, but having tried and tasted quite a few of the Tesco Brand products, and not had any major issues, then I thought I'd give these a try as well.
The price was great - just 29p for a 200g packet. The packaging was the standard simple Tesco own-brand style, but if that doesn't bother you, then the actual product is really very good. Now, being a bit of a peanut guru, I can be a bit fussy and picky about the nuts I buy.
These are not the best on the market, but I wouldn't expect that at the price. But they do taste nice, are salted to the right level. They are the smaller kind of peanut - not the large roasted nuts that are also available. Would I buy them again? The answer is yes. And although they are not the best on the market from a taste perspective, they're really not far short. So if you're prepared to compromise just a little on quality, then from a prce perspective these really are excellent.
I recommend to all peanut lovers to give them a try..!!
I was looking for new scouring pads before Christmas, but the shelves at my local Tesco were quite bare, and all that was available were the Tesco Brand of Pan Cleaners. At just 12p for five, I thought I'd give them a try. At that price, it wasn't going to break my budget.
The actual sponge pads are a little thinner than most similiar products on the market, probably around half the size, but I used one over the Christmas period mostly just to give the pots & pans a wipe over before putting them in the dishwasher, and it worked perfectly well. The more stubborn stained pots received a going over with the sponge pad, and so far so good; it did the job well and didn't show any signs that it'd already be time to throw it away. The softer side of the sponge pad is white, so that has become a little discoloured, but, even if it doesn't last for months and months, at just 12 pence for five, this really is a good bargain, and I'd recommend giving them a try.
I bought the Russell Hobbs 2000 earlier this year, and whilst there are a number of good aspects about this iron, its not one I'd recommend nor buy again in the future.
Firstly, the positives. Its a very lightweight iron, so easy to use and manoeuvre. Even for the most amateur of 'ironers' like myself, this iron doesn't make the chore even more difficult. It has a large capacity water tank - 330ml, therefore doesn't need to be refilled every five minutes. Plus, the tank is transparent, so its easy to see when the water is getting low.
Another positive is that it has a very powerful steam option, which is great for getting rid of those very stubborn creases and wrinkles. One slight problem I've noticed here, is that when you do steam the clothes, it does tend to deposit small traces of what I assume is calcium. So a good tip, before you steam, first give it a blast onto the ironing board cover to eliminate and risk of making a mess on your clothes.
The one major downside is that the ceramic soleplate has quickly become discoloured, and it seems impossible to now clean it. I have to be extremely careful when ironing anything light coloured, as the discolouration quickly transfers to the clothes. So often I'm ironing over a teacloth. Its a shame, because everything else about the Steam Glide iron is very good indeed.
I bought this Hoover vacuum cleaner purely based on the brand name, and having moved into a new property, needed some basic gadgets pretty darn quick. So no time for review, I just went with a known Brand name.
There's some positives as well as negatives about this model, and as you can see from the picture, it is indeed bright red.
I do really like the fact that its 'bagless', and that's much of the reason I went with an upright vacuum rather than a cylinder version. With this model, you can easily see when the dust container is full, and its simple to detach so no hassle when it comes to emptying. The only small snag is that some dust tends to escape in this process, so the vacuum itself can get a bit messy.
I have carpets, rugs and laminate flooring, and there's settings on the vaccuum that allows it to work fine on each.
The reasons why I'd only rate this as average are that the switches are a bit 'clunky'. The on/off button and the handle release need a firm press with your foot, and I'm a little worried how long they'll last. And the other major issue I have is with the extendable hose. In the user instructions, there's a picture of a lady vacuuming the top stair using the extendable suction hose, and the vacuum is sitting nicely at the bottom of the stairs. In my experience, that is not possible as the hose does not stretch that far. You have to carry the vacuum in one hand whilst vacuuming the stairs with the hose in the other hand. Not easy. And I've also had problems using the hose to get to the corners of a room. In one situation, the vacuum fell over onto my foot causing some nasty bruising.
In hindsight, for anyone with stairs to consider, make sure you choose a model with sufficient hose length.
Having recently tased a value brand of biscuits whilst visiting a friend, I've started to explore the various Tesco-own Brand products that are available, and one of my great favourites are the Tesco value Jaffa cakes.
I do have a sweet tooth, so I'm not going to put up with anything that doesn't taste as good as the real thing. And these Jaffa cakes are pretty darned close. My only problem is that when I open a packet, I tend to eat the lot in one go.
Tesco sell a small range of own brand jaffa cakes. They have a 12 cake pack, currently priced at 48p; a 36 cake pack priced at £1.75, and the 24 cake Value pack which I purchase, priced at just 72p, which contains two seperate packets of 12 cakes.
The packaging of the Value products are easily distinguished from the other Tesco Brand Jaffa cakes, as they come in the simple white, plain Tesco packaging, whereas the 12 and 36 pack are orange.
And yes the Value packaging is very basic and simple - but as it soon ends up in the recycling bin, its not really an issue for me that its not as colourful as the named Brand products.
The one observation I do have with the Value Jaffa cakes, is that they seem slighter drier than the named Brand version, but as I tend to wolf them down in one sitting, thats not proving to be a major problem.
But, on the whole, they really are very nice. and I'd strongly recommend them to anyone that likes Jaffa Cakes.